Star Citizen – General Discussions
- This topic has 1,083 replies, 57 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 10 months ago by dsmart.
May 31, 2016 at 8:19 pm #3586
A Goon effort poster has put up one of his masterpiece effort posts. It’s worth the read.
CLOUD IMPERIUM CAN’T COMPETE
CIG can’t compete with the AAA Space Games they know about — and the certainly can’t compete with the ones they don’t know about. They are a floundering, disorganized studio — the Ad Hoc-iest game studio in recent memory — and they’ve betrayed this very fact repeatedly without intending to in the very shows meant to boost backer confidence in the project.
Over the last month or so, I have been astonished to see how many new faces have appeared on “Around the Verse”. This most recent episode features an employee in LA who was on his very first day of work. His very first day.
I don’t mean by mentioning him to impugn his talent or question his worth. He might be a great hire– as might be all the new hires. But CIG is a Gaming Studio whose revolving door spins like a top — so many leaving, so many coming in. It might take 3-6 months before a new hire reaches something approximating productivity. Yet CIG is not a well-tuned engine made faster or more efficient once new employees learn the ropes, it is a bucket brigade. Some fight fires, others try to keep the thing afloat.
Rockstar, Bethesda, Infinity Ward, Bioware– these are machines. Work doesn’t grind to a halt because some guy broke his arm, or because they lose a key employee, or because they can’t fill a position. They may occasionally push a release date back three months, they may occasionally even lose a badass. But deadlines matter to them because they make their money AFTER release, not before.
And the most successful of them hardly lose employees at all. Bethesda Softworks has 100 employees. Some have worked together 5,10 even 20 years. Todd Howard touched on the mysterious shorthand that emerges between people who’ve worked together closely for that long in a recent speech at DICE. There are synergies CIG can’t even dream of once a studio achieves that level of cohesion. It took 100 people 4 years to put out Fallout 4– and they made nearly $1B in 24 hours upon release. CIG can’t compete against such studios because they can’t compete like them.
“YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GAME DEVELOPMENT!”
“Why, it’s just the way the Games Industry works!”, the backers always retort, as some did when Mark Skelton’s surprise departure was announced only days ago. “You know nothing about Game Development if you don’t know that!”
Alas, would that that were true. Would that it all were true! Than the steady flow of CIG arrivals and departures was a sign of the relative health of the company; a sign of good things to come for Star Citizen andSquadron 42.
Yet the perpetual turnover and ad hoc development habits of Cloud Imperium Games are not typical of every studio.
Nor are logjams where two years of motion capture animations pile up undeployed because there’s no Technical Animator on-hand to port them into the game.
Nor is starting a new year without a development roadmap for the year ahead, necessitating ad hoc spitballing sessions between management power players spread across the globe.
Nor is prioritizing the addition of in-game Spacedoll clothes shopping when your tutorial is broken, your flight model ludicrous, and your FPS so bad you can put a clip full of bullets in an opponents head, only to watch him strike a T Pose and hover away.
THIS IS WHAT FLOUNDERING LOOKS LIKE
It explains quite neatly why Star Citizen remains in an unstable Alpha state, 4.5 years in, with less than 10% of its promised content and features available for players. A company like CIG does not have time to anticipate and then respond to their competitive threats because…
…Their Developers are too busy lining up all of Chris Roberts promised game features and deciding which ones to shoot in the head…
…Their QA teams are documenting bugs squashed months ago somehow resurrected with new patches…
…Their Customer Support folks are busy sending canned “too bad, so sad” replies to people asking for refunds…
… Their Community Team is too busy putting out weekly tv shows about Wing Commander arcana while denying viewers answers about delivery dates for content…
… Their Visionary Leader is too busy shooting even more footage for a long overdue single player game unlikely to ever recoup its development budget…
…and their Marketing Team, such as it is, continues to pursue her Hollywood dream while not even bothering to stay abreast of basic game developments like Evocati testing…
How can they respond to threats from without when fighting threats from within is a fulltime job?
I know this was true for the last few years, when Chris Roberts thought the Space Game race market would be fought over between him and his Frenemy of old, David Braben.
But 2016 has been a wake up call. and from what I can tell, yesteryear’s sense of Manifest Destiny is beginning to crumble in the senior leadership. It is one thing to make offhand claims about developing a shooter on par with Call of Duty when you’re primary competition is a space game that hasn’t yet added space legs. It is quite another when the latest “Call of Duty” game is set in space and includes space dogfighting missions and Zero G combat.
“I sense a disturbance in The Farce…”
Except they may not have anything super impressive to show. They unfortunately now live in a world where the Admiral Bishop speech will be compared with Infinite Warfare cutscenes. It’s going to be really hard to compete against that kind of polish, especially when Infinity Ward specifically prioritized improving the CoD storytelling elements and brought in some of the creatives behind “The Last of Us” and “Uncharted 4” to do just that.
Chris Roberts told us that AAA studios make creatively compromised games and subordinate creative visionaries to beancounter concerns. And in 3 years time, one of the biggest AAA franchises in gaming history has cooked up a Dogfighting and FPS movie game that Squadron 42 must now prove superior to, lest Chris’ narrative be repudiated. I’m going out on a limb here, but I kinda think he’s parped on that front…
Hey, I agree with this.
When I originally predicted a possible Hamill appearance, it was as much about reinforcing backer confidence during an event that’s likely to erode it.
A Hamill appearance gets Chris a warmer crowd than he might otherwise enjoy, and that’s going to come across better on the livestream, but Hamill can’t use the Force and make new people buy this game when a lot of other E3 signals might be saying, “This aren’t the games you’re looking for. Move along. Move along.” I think we might see a bump in sales, but only that.
The bigger problem coming out of E3 is one I’ve harped for while.
There’s a lot of truth to this– but I disagree with your final conclusion. There are different types of Media– so many– and while the Gaming Press in general isn’t spoiling for fights and gives hardly a crap for any public interest concerns of gamers, they’re not the only Media with claim to this story.
The Largest Crowdfunding Success in history is a big fat target. Crowdfunding as a financing method is under increasing scrutiny with some colorful and in some cases high profile failures. The Business Press (WSJ / FT / BusinessWeek / etc.) has an interest in stories that explore that angle and if CIG isn’t worried about that possibility yet, they really should be. Why? Because those outlets are especially inclined to chase tales of financial waste / misappropriations / fraud / profiteering / etc. They don’t just get a few anonymous sources and call it a day. They’ve got investigative resources most Gaming Journos (click-farming bloggers) just wouldn’t dream of. They’re not scared off pissing their targets- in high profile cases, they sometimes savor that part especially. Plus, the rags they work for have insurance, lawyers, and the prestige of their name.
It’s one thing for a journo at Destructoid or MassivelyOP to email seeking comment. They’re easy to blow off — what’s the worst that’s going to happen?
It’s another thing if a reporter with the WSJ calls. Or the business desk at NYT. Or Washington Post. Or Businessweek.
I’m not saying that’s who breaks the story, mind you. I honestly have no clue. But I know without any doubt that CIG won’t get a permanent pass. We all know they’re not releasing Star Citizen this year and Squadron 42 isn’t likely releasing this year, either. That is a motivation for a lot of parties to reasses the whole thing.
All the big competitor games are get one further reason to start changing the Star Citizen narrative — and frankly, five gets you ten that we are going to see stories coming out of E3 of the “Is Mass Effect Andromeda a Star Citizen killer?” And “Space Games Wars: The Big Publishing Empire Strikes Back!”
Just a bunch.
We don’t have to wait for some new Derek Smart to push them. The forces that will push them are already on the calendar– and Star Citizen is off the calendar. That in itself is a story– and I think it’s going to get told.
These narratives are too ironic not to tempt a journalist or two, and Mark Hamill’s presence makes the connection so obvious even a Gaming Journalist might figure it out.
If I were Chris, I’d be very, very worried about this. If he employed real Marketing and Brand expertise, they’d have warned of this very risk a long time ago, and they’d have made course corrections to reduce the risk. But he doesn’t, and they didn’t, and now we’re here.May 31, 2016 at 10:01 pm #3587
Where do I find this Goon’s site. Some searches have turned up references to him but no site/videos on Youtube. He writes well and realistically.May 31, 2016 at 10:18 pm #3588
You can find him on the SA forums (here is a recent post) as well as on my Discord server.May 31, 2016 at 10:19 pm #3589
Another Goon post. This one is his reader feedback sent into a recent Guard Frequency broadcast that I was on.
Your interview with Derek Smart came as quite a surprise to me. He is a lightning rod in the backer community and I hope you weren’t electrocuted by holding on to it for 90 minutes. It took a lot of courage and I applaud you for it. I expect you’ve heard an earful about Derek’s sins as troll and failings as a developer. We all have. How strange it seems that the claims of a supposedly irrelevant, mediocre hack have been given so much attention, yet so little scrutiny has been given to the claims of Chris Roberts. He is, after all, the man making the game we all wanted, right?
• Over four years ago, Chris Roberts claimed that he wanted to make the kind of Space Sim that Publishers would never dare fund, and in response, Roberts was given the greatest gift in gaming history– a war chest of $114 million dollars, absolute creative control, with no oversight and no deadlines.
• Chris Roberts claimed he would build “a huge universe to explore, trade and adventure in”, yet four years later, he’s given us one planet that we can not land on and nothing to trade beyond Big Benny’s machines.
• Chris Roberts claimed Star Citizen would offer an FPS experience as good or better than Battlefield and Arma– yet after 4 years in, players routinely find themselves unloading a clip into an opponent at point blank range to no effect whatsoever. There are no cover mechanics, no squad coordination, and no means to distinguish friend from foe.
• Chris Roberts claimed both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen would be VR compatible– and yet he has rendered it impossible with forced player animations, headbobs, and slow frame rates even on advanced GPUs. VR won’t be retrofitted onto this game, it can’t be.
I could go on, yet surely the point is obvious– Chris Roberts is not credible. Period. He has missed nearly every release date he himself set. He has delivered the tiniest fraction of what he pitched. Much of the rest may be technically impossible.
PROGRESS TO DATE AGAINST STATED GOALS IS A MORE RELIABLE PREDICTOR OF FUTURE RESULTS
Less than than 1/3 of the ships he has thusfar sold are available to fly after 4 years. Out of supposedly 100 Star Systems planned, we can currently explore one incomplete system without a star. But there is nothing to find beyond rudimentary “go here, do (X), and leave” quests. Let’s be charitable and say we are somehow halfway through the development cycle for Star Citizen 1.0 and that the game will be finished within another 4.5 years. Does anyone really believe the funding will continue another 4.5 years? Or that a game begun in 2012 will be compelling in 2020?
Derek Smart has said many of these things for nearly a year. In that time, he’s also had some meltdowns, taken some cheap shots, he has dared CIG to sue him, and has done a lot I could never defend. But what can I say? He’s Derek Smart. Yet at this point, he’s has proven more credible in his critiques of Star Citizen than Chris Roberts has in his predictions for it. Rather than decrying Smart for his trollish moments, his warlord battle cries, it seems to me time that backers should start asking harder questions of Chris Roberts. He is the one with $114 million dollars. He has the one signed “The Pledge”, which began, “We, the Star Citizen Team at Cloud Imperium, hereby promise to deliver the game you expect.”
It’s 4.5 years in, and considering all the work left to do, it’s looking pretty grim. It will look grimmer still in the months ahead, because those creativity-killing publishers Chris Roberts decried have some AAA space titles slated for release. Star Citizen will be judged against “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, “No Man’s Sky” and of course the ever improving “Elite”. Bethesda’s long secret “Starfield” project shouldn’t be underestimated, either. They’ve planning planning a go at a Space RPG since 1996– and, well, they’ve learned quite a bit in 20 years. “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” will present similar challenges for “Squadron 42”. Both are hybrid space dogfighters with FPS. Both have Hollywood casts and motion captured dramas. The one with a multiplayer mode loved by 15 million or more people will ship this fall. The other will likely be delayed into 2017. Or later.
This is our present reality – a marketplace once bereft of Space Games is now filling up with them, and some look damn exciting to me. None had the budget or the freedom Chris Roberts has had with Star Citizen. It’s time to ask him harder questions, and if not, to ask ourselves why we can not.”June 2, 2016 at 12:02 pm #3597
So much for THE PLEDGE “So do we get the financial accountability now?” Closed for Rule 9
$115 million raised according to their not-so-accurate funding page, yet any questions about financial accountability gets squashed.June 2, 2016 at 2:59 pm #3598
Not familiar with rule 9 as I haven’t been on the forums since late 2014.
Reading the thread demonstrates how, well stupid for want of a better word, some people can be. What a total lack of understanding of the terms, when it was due, and living in the CIG bubble of all is well. Although this thread did have one or two others who stated the question needed to be asked so maybe the light is shining through for some!June 2, 2016 at 5:09 pm #3599
Rule 9 is their STFU and GTFO short-form script for quashing any dissent or questions raised about the project and/or dev practices.
(a) Posts discussing rumors or misinformation, including the posting of rumors and/or personal opinion as fact, are not allowed.
(b) Posts designed to rile up or divide the community and spread unrest, including FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) are not allowed.June 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm #3600
Any normal person would realize that post fits neither of those categories. He just asked a question and wanted what CIG said they would provide.
However, when you are wanting to stifle anything negative I guess that works. Dictatorships, cults (religious or otherwise), companies, that don’t want hard questions ask all have rules like that. Rock the boat, dare to think and you are out. “Management knows what they are doing, just do what you are told’, in religion anyone questioning them is a tool of Satan and the attacks prove they, the institution are right. However, they fail to realize that questions and dissent are valuable and necessary if handled correctly. The questioners and dissenters point out flaws in the organization and can be valuable in making corrections to help stay in business. Those who ignore them usually fail as cults or businesses.
Given these rules have been there since day one it makes me think CIG just wanted sheep to fleece.
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